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      The Main Components of a High Speed Handpiece

      The Main Components of a High Speed Handpiece

      The Components of a High Speed Turbine Assembly

      Maintaining Your High Speed Handpiece

      What is a Chucking Mechanism?

      The mechanism that allows the handpiece to hold a bur.


      What are the Different Types of Chucking Mechanisms?

      1. Standard Screw-Type (bur tool-type)

      • The spindle and chuck (the parts of the turbine that hold the bur) are separate.
      • A bur tool is required to insert and remove the bur; it screws the chuck down into the spindle causing the chuck to tighten around the bur.
      • Screw-type chucks can be replaced in repair.

      1. Standard Screw-Type (bur tool-type)

      • The spindle and chuck (the parts of the turbine that hold the bur) are separate.
      • A bur tool is required to insert and remove the bur; it screws the chuck down into the spindle causing the chuck to tighten around the bur.
      • Screw-type chucks can be replaced in repair.

      2. Push Button-Type

      • The spindle and chuck are a single assembly.
      • The push button cap on the handpiece presses on the actuator on the top of the spindle which engages an internal spring component to open or close the chucking mechanism.
      • Bur shank size is important – burs with shanks under .0626 or over .0630 cannot be used.

      Benefits of Push Button Chucks

      • Easy insertion and removal of burs.

      Disadvantages of Push Button Chucks

      • Do not provide as strong a grip on the bur as screw-type chucks.
      • Heavy use can cause the chuck to strip, which will result in poor bur retention.
      • Higher cost to purchase.
      • Once the chuck fails the whole turbine must be replaced instead of just the chuck.


        • Introduced into the handpiece through dirty air and water every time air pressure is released.
        • The best way to remove it is to flush the handpiece between patients using a handpiece cleaner and lubricant.

      Blow out the handpiece using compressed air to remove loose debris, cleaner, and lubricant before sterilization (a handpiece should never be run without a bur!).

      Air Pressure

      • Excessive air pressure (exceeding 40 PSI) could cause damage to turbine bearings, reducing the performance of the turbine.
      • When handpiece performance is reduced at 35 PSI the turbine should be rebuilt or replaced.


      Sterilization Tips

      • Never exceed 275ºF (135ºC) during the sterilization cycle; use the lowest temperature possible while still achieving proper sterilization of instruments.
      • Subjecting bearings to higher temperatures can cause the materials to break down and crack.
      • Handpieces should only be used at room temperature, not hot.
      • Never cool handpieces under cold running water; quick cool downs are bad for turbine components.
      • If sterilizers are not maintained properly, excessive debris will bake onto the turbine and result in premature failure.
      • Never use a dry heat sterilizer; the excessive heat will damage bearings.


      Air and Water Supplies

      • Must remain free of debris.
      • Filters should be used and checked often.
      • Compressor oils and carbons must be filtered from the air supply.
      • An air dryer should also be used and maintained as required.


      Push Button Spindle Maintenance

      • Push button spindles are made of metal components and require small amounts of lubricant and periodic flushing for an extended life span.
      • Use a handpiece cleaner or combination cleaner/ lubricant (lubricating alone is not enough).
      • Spray handpiece cleaner and lubricant up into the front of the spindle; an adapter may be required.


      • Then flush the handpiece to remove debris from the handpiece head that has been introduced from flushing the spindle.
      • Doing this will help remove debris from within the spindle assembly, which will prevent the spindle from sticking open or failing.


      Lube Free or Maintenance Free Turbines (Beware)

      • Only the bearings are maintenance free!
      • The bearings are pre-greased at the factory and shielded to help protect them from debris and the removal of lubricants during use.
      • Other turbine components still need to be maintained; O-rings will dry out without lubricants and push button spindles require lubrication and flushing.

      What Are the Different Types of High Speed Handpiece Connections?

      • Handpieces can come with either a fixed back end or a quick disconnect swivel style.
      • Both types of back ends can come with 5 different tubing connection configurations (i.e. 2 hole, 4 hole).

      Fixed Back

      • Does not have a swivel coupler; must be screwed on/off tubing for cleaning and does not swivel.
      • Connections are internationally standardized and universal (ISO) so that any brand of handpiece will fit the same tubing connection configuration.

      Quick Disconnect

      • The handpiece has a hollow back end that can be snapped onto a coupler.
      • The coupler is screwed onto the tubing, allowing the handpiece to be quickly attached and removed for cleaning.

      What are the Benefits of Quick Disconnect Couplers?

      • Easy and fast removal of the handpiece from the tubing.
      • Increased dentist comfort, because the swivel reduces the drag of the tubing.


      What are the Disadvantages of Quick Disconnect Couplers?

      Every major brand of handpiece has its own proprietary connection between the handpiece and the swivel, so handpieces and swivels from different brands are not compatible.

      Many manufacturers are beginning to offer handpieces that will fit other brands of couplers, but it appers to us  that the KaVo MULTIflex style coupling is winning the battle to become the universal quick connect style.


      A light system that used special glass fibers called optical bundles to carry a source of light


      The part in the handpiece turbine used to hold the bur.


      The main central cylindrical component of a turbine that holds the bur. Its auto button function locks and releases the bur without a manual key wrench.

      END CAP

      The cap, back cap, or cover which serves to lock in the turbine on the top head area of the handpiece.


      The main component of a high speed handpiece that is located in the head sealed in with a push button, lever and bur wrench end cap which functions on compressed air or electricity.


      A handpiece bearings that incorporates ceramic balls. Ceramic bearings are 25% harder than conventional steel but are only half the weight. Thus, efficiency and durability is increased.


      A rubber component that is placed on the button of the handpiece covering the outer circumference of the 4 protruding tubes. It acts as a seal between the handpiece and the supply unit connector for the air and water flow.


      The air discharged from a dental handpiece after spinning the turbine.


      A connection fitting feature on the handpeice or attachment which allows for easy separation and connection.


      The compressed air used to rotate the turbine in a dental handpiece.


      A straight nose cone or angle that quick disconnects on and off the front of a low speed motor to provide various bur and prophy holding options.


      A liquid applied to moving parts of a handpiece in order to reduce friction.


      Revolutions Per Minute. A unit it is used as a measure of rotational speed of a mechanical component.

      What Are the Types of Tubing Connections?


      2 Hole (Borden Connection)

      • Usually the standard in developing countries (e.g., all of Latin America).
      • Has one large hole, which is air intake to drive the turbine to spin, and a small hole for water to cool the bur/tooth.
      • No air exhaust, so the exhaust just blows right out of the handpiece, making it much louder.
      • Also, no chip air, so the water comes out more as a stream than as a fine mist.
      • A 2/4 adapter can be used to fit this kind of handpiece onto 4 hole tubing, but the handpiece will still not have the chip air or exhaust air features.
      • Used very little. In fact, we may be one of the last manufacturers still to offer this style!
      • Has the same handpiece thread design as 2 hole, but with the addition of one extra small tube for the chip air line to allow the water to come out as a fine mist.
      • Can be converted to 2 hole by simply removing the chip air tube.


      4 Hole (Midwest Connection)

      • The standard in the U.S. and Europe.
      • Has two large air holes (the smaller of the two is air in and the larger is air exhaust out).
      • Also has two small holes, a water tube and a chip air tube (which brings air to the head where it either mixes with or hits the water to make a fine mist) to cool the bur/tooth and clear debris.
      • A 4/2 adapter can be used to fit this kind of handpiece onto 2 hole tubing, but the handpiece will lose the exhaust and chip air feature.

      5 Hole


      • Has the same handpiece thread design as 4 hole, but with the addition of a fiber optic rod which
      • transmits light through the handpiece and illuminates the bur and tooth area for better visibility.
      • Has all the other features of 4 hole as well.
      • A 5 hole handpiece can be used on 4 hole tubing, but the light feature will not function

      Quick Disconnect Coupler Connections


      • Couplers can be 2 hole, 4 hole, and fiber optic (2 types).
      • 5 hole fiber optic couplers have an internal glass rod that goes onto tubing that has a light source (bulb) either in the tubing or on the dental control unit.
      • 6 pin couplers (with 4 holes like a normal 4 hole handpiece plus 2 metal pins to provide electricity) have the light bulb in the coupler itself.

      To help narrow down your selection, first answer the following 3 questions.


      Do you want a handpiece that:


      1.  Is Fixed Back or Quick Disconnect?

      •  If Quick Disconnect, does it need to connect with another manufacturer’s coupler?
      •  If so, whose?

      2.  Has a Standard Chuck or a Push Button Chuck?

      3.  Is Fiber Optic or Non-Fiber Optic?